This was the issue of Futures End that I have enjoyed the least. The book feels like it’s treading water, waiting for Brainiac to arrive or for Brother Eye to reveal itself again or something. For a moment there, it seemed like the comic had come into focus and was really beginning to hit its stride. Then it closed out the previous Firestorm story and Cadmus Island and began having more things intersect until... nothing. Nothing has happened. And you could tell that this would be that sort of comic right from the beginning, too. “Never judge a book by its cover.” What a crock...
I remember the attention JG Jones’s covers for 52 received. Not every cover was a winner, but many were. They were inventive and fun and, usually, managed to pick the most visually interesting element of that issue and present it in a way that made the art inside seem even worse. Ryan Sook’s tenure as cover artist for Futures End has mostly left me underwhelmed. I did a quick flip through the covers for the first 35 issues and few stand out. I liked the run of issues 23-25 with the linked covers or the cover to issue 20 that gave away the ending (it was worth it for that image) or issue three somehow summing up Mr. Terrific in one image... but, those were rare. Most of the covers are just your typical superhero comic covers. That’s such a weak dismissal of them, I know; but I’m not sure that they deserve better. Sook’s actual line work is good; they all have attractive art. There’s just nothing at all, besides the level of skill Sook brings to executing specific drawings, that makes them stand out. And, as much as I like Sook’s art, it’s not so strong that line work alone makes me take a second look at mediocre concepts and layouts.
And this week’s cover is the worst. Flipping through the issue again, I tried to pick out a better idea for the cover based on what’s inside the comic and I’ve got nothing. Something involving John Constantine and Kal-El? Plastique giving Terry McGinnis a handjob while Bruce Wayne watches? I don’t know... Maybe there is nothing better than a bunch of characters from the most insufferable storyline all standing around, trying to evoke a bank heist image, but mostly just standing around making me wonder who in their right mind would want to buy the original art for this cover. It’s static and dull; it offers little information while failing to make you want to inquire into its mysteries. It’s a bunch of people standing around in front of a vault with neon green gas surrounding them.
Every week, I take a look at the collage of images at the back of the issue with particular interest in what we get of the next issue’s cover. Usually, it’s a bit of a rough sketch (this issue is a rough sketch of John Constantine run through with a sword), but I like the idea that they have a little visual tease in each issue. They give you hints about what’s coming and it always gets me excited. Until I see the cover of the next issue, usually. Then, it becomes another superhero comic that looks ugly and uninteresting. What falls between the covers usually does it for me. This week, though, it was the perfect pairing of dull cover and apathetic content.